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Dr. Hume with Patient   Photo:  Curtis Brandt

Featured Article

Five Preventable Veterinary Emergencies

Follow These Easy Tips to Avoid Some Serious Pet Health Issues

Article by Daniel Hume, DVM

Photography by Curtis Brandt & Provided

Originally published in Boise Lifestyle

Veterinary clinics and veterinary emergency rooms are busy right now. Really busy. The financial cost associated with emergency medical care (human or pet) is high, and resources can be limited. Not all pet health issues are avoidable or preventable, but many are. The following is a list of the top five preventable veterinary emergencies.


Pets can chew or ingest a lot of things around the home. Within seconds, pets can chew open medication containers. 

Commonly seen toxicities in the pet ER.

- Grapes/raisins – kidney injury

- Lilies (cats) – kidney injury

- Pet or human medications

-        Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (pet or human)  – kidney/GI/liver injury

-        Anti-depressant medications   

-        Heart medications

- Rodenticides/rat baits 

- Antifreeze – kidney injury

- Chocolate

Preventative tips:

  1. Keep all medications safely stored in a secure cabinet out of the reach of pets and children.
  2. Survey your house or garage for possible toxins.
  3. Avoid lilies in households with a cat. 


Pet ERs see a large amount of avoidable traumatic injuries. It can take only a second for even a well-trained pet to run into the street or get into a fight with another pet.    

      Vehicular trauma – hit/run over by a vehicle, falling out of moving vehicle    

      Dog/cat fight injuries    

Preventative tips: 

  1. Leash your pets at all times when they are near moving vehicles or other dogs. 
  2. Avoid transporting pets in the back of moving vehicles or out a window. 

3) Gastrointestinal (GI) Issues

Pets tend to have the consistent GI health when they consume the same type of food for every meal. Table food can lead to GI upset (vomiting and diarrhea). Bones and rawhides can get stuck in the intestinal tract leading to obstruction. Younger pets tend to be more prone to eating objects (socks, underwear, toys, hair ties, etc.). They shouldn’t. These objects can lead to GI obstructions.

Preventative tips:

  1. Maintain pets with a routine diet.
  2. Avoid switching pet foods (type/brand) quickly.
  3. Avoid giving pets table food.
  4. Be mindful of items around the house that pets may ingest. 


Pets are susceptible to heat and exertional injuries. Even short amounts of exposure can lead to potentially life-threatening injuries. Short-nosed dogs (bulldogs, boxers, pugs, etc.) are at significantly increased risk. During the summer months, temperatures can reach extreme levels in vehicles. Most times, dogs refuse to self-limit their activities with their humans. Long hikes, bike rides, or runs can quickly lead to overexertion. 

Preventative tips:

  1. Allow dogs to acclimate to activity and warming temperatures gradually over a couple of weeks.
  2. Never leave pets inside vehicles.
  3. Plan exertional activities during the early morning or late evenings.
  4. Make sure pets have access to water and shade and take plenty of rest breaks. 


Vaccines are highly effective at preventing the majority of the highly infectious diseases in dogs and cats. Unvaccinated pets are susceptible to potentially life-threatening conditions.

Preventative tips:

  1. Make sure your puppy or kitten receives the complete series of vaccines. 
  2. Avoid co-mingling young dogs until they are fully vaccinated. 
  3. Talk to your family veterinarian about which vaccines are recommended in your older dog and cat. 

To learn more:

  • Dr. Hume & Lulu   Photo: Robert Allen
  • Photo:  Curtis Brandt
  • Dr. Hume with Patient   Photo:  Curtis Brandt

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